‘17 was strong, ‘18 can be even stronger

January tends to be a time to look back on the previous year and to look forward to the coming year. So, I’d like to take the opportunity to do that for the Small Business Development Center.

Quite a successful year 2017 turned out to be for the SBDC here on the Big Island. Across the country, the success of organizations like ours is measured by our outcomes in the lives touched and the dollars invested in the economy. Here on Hawaii Island we have two centers, one in Kailua-Kona and one in Hilo, contributing to those outcomes and I think the results they achieved were pretty awesome last year.

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Looking first to outcomes in dollars, we look at the money invested in the local economy by the client companies we have worked with throughout the year as one metric. This is money that comes into these clients’ businesses from loans, grants, owner investment, or outside investors, and wherever it comes from this is investment SBDC has had some part in obtaining or facilitating. In 2017, that “capital infusion” equaled $6.8 million here on the Big Island. We also look at sales increases realized by the clients we have worked with in the past, and that number was close to $8.1 million last year. Combined, that is almost $15 million of new money coming into the Hawaii Island economy from SBDC clients in 2017.

I think these figures are remarkable when you compare Hawaii Island to the rest of the state. Statewide, capital infusion for SBDC clients equaled $29.4 million and sales increases equaled close to $20 million, for a combined figure of $49.4 million. That in and of itself is impressive. But, drilling down from those state totals, as the Big Island accounts for only about 14 percent of the state’s population, and as in 2017 Big Island SBDC client results accounted for 30 percent of the statewide total, we’re boxing well above our weight. Way to go Big Island!

Next, we look at the lives touched. In 2017, Big Island SBDC clients created 32 new businesses and created 86 new jobs. In addition, we had 679 attendees at our training events and our advisors logged close to 2,000 hours of client contact. Again, pretty big numbers for a pretty sparsely populated place.

We’re up to the challenge of hitting those targets again in 2018, and already have or shortly will be adding to our staffs to give it our best effort. We should be helped with the financial impacts as we gain traction with continuing improvements in the economy and by a noteworthy influx of mainland lenders entering the Hawaii market. While we appreciate our ongoing relationships with local lenders and are eager to continue working with them, new sources of financing are always welcome.

On that note, and looking forward to 2018, be on the lookout for our February workshop on How to Finance Your Business, with a panel of bankers from Bank of Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank and First Hawaiian as we try to take some of the mystery out of the topic that is always first out of the mouths of my business startup clients: “Where do people get the money to go into business?”

Later that month and at various times during the year, we’ll be conducting “How to Start a Business in Hawaii,” one of our regular workshops, and will be hosting a “Marketing in Japan” streaming workshop along with our partners at the Hawaii State Trade Expansion Program (HiStep). Before I get too ahead of myself in the year, let me mention that we are also offering a workshop on Jan. 31, How to Write a Business Plan, again one of our regulars that will be offered at various times during the year.

Coming up later in the year are workshops on How Tax Reform Affects Business Owners, Marketing for Small Business, Business Financing Opportunities Through USDA, How to Start a Nonprofit, Trademarks, Franchising, Patents, Employee Benefits, and Company Branding, along with other topics still being developed. So be on the lookout for those upcoming events throughout the year on social media, in this paper, or via direct email invite if you have attended an event of ours previously.

To all our community partners who are sharing their time and expertise in these upcoming events and to the corporate sponsors for them who have signed on to date (Bank of Hawaii; Jacob Burrill, CPA; and Central Pacific Bank), we are grateful. Thanks to you we hit the targets we did in 2017 and hope to again this year. It does indeed take an island!

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Join us for How to Write a Business Plan from 9-11:30 a.m. Wednesday at our offices at NELHA. Register at www.hisbdc.org.

Dennis Boyd is director of the West Hawaii Small Business Development Center. The Hawaii SBDC Network is funded in part through the U.S. Small Business Administration and the University of Hawaii at Hilo.